Christian Pulisic injury: Tracking the USMNT star’s status for the round of 16

Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images

USMNT star suffered a “pelvic contusion” while scoring the game-winning goal and is now questionable for the Round of 16.

Late in the first half of Tuesday’ do-or-die match against Iran, Christian Pulisic came through for the United States, scoring one of the the most important goals in USMNT history as he put a pass from Sergiño Dest past Iranian keeper Alireza Beiranvand to give the United States a 1-0 lead.

But instead of wheeling away in celebration, Pulisic remained down on the turf, having crashed into Beiranvand in the effort. Pulisic was eventually helped off by trainers, and did return to the match, but was subbed off before the second half began.

The United States survived a frenzied second half, and over nine minutes of stoppage time, preserving the one-goal victory to put them through to the knockout stage of the World Cup. Their reward for the effort? A date with the Netherlands on Saturday.

Now they await word on Pulisic’s status for that match.

Post-match updates

The USMNT released a quick update on Pulisic on Tuesday evening, indicating that he was “day-to-day” with a pelvic contusion:

A USMNT spokesperson did clarify that Pulisic was already back at the team hotel following a visit to the hospital. On Tuesday night USMNT social media team posted a video of players returning to the team hotel, and receiving a warm welcome for supporters, and Pulisic himself:

The match against Iran and the injury

Here is another look at Pulisic’s effort, as he put his body on the line for the go-ahead goal:

This series of images puts into context just what Pulisic did to see the United States through to the round of 16:

It was Pulisic’s first World Cup goal, and one that will live on in USMNT lore. But it might have come at a steep price, as Pulisic needed to be removed from the match before the second half, after making a short attempt at returning to the pitch:

His injury was termed an “abdominal injury” by the USMNT at the time of the substitution:

According to Kevin Baxter, who covers soccer for the Los Angeles Times, the USMNT star was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation of his abdominal injury:

According to Jenny Taft, who is covering the World Cup for Fox Sports, Pulisic FaceTimed the team from the hospital:

The United States squares off with the Netherlands at 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday.

This story will be updated as updates to Pulisic’s condition become available.

Christian Pulisic stepped up when the USMNT needed him most

Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images

The U.S. star gave up his body to score in a must-win game.

The United States men’s national team is through to the Round of 16 at the World Cup and it was their highest-profile player who scored the goal to get them there. Giving up his body and potentially sacrificing the rest of his tournament in the process, Christian Pulisic has secured his spot in USMNT folklore with his heroics in the 1-0 win over Iran.

While the rest of his teammates were jubilantly celebrating their qualification for the knockout rounds, the American star was on his way to the hospital after suffering an abdominal injury flinging himself at the ball to score the game’s only goal.

Dubbed the golden child of American soccer since he was 16 years old, this moment was a culmination of hard work and destiny. Trials and tribulations were plenty along the way. His crumpled body was the emblematic image of the USA’s failures in the last World Cup cycle, but now he’s responsible for the biggest moment of the team’s run in Qatar so far.

Even after setting up the only goal in the 1-1 draw with Wales in the opening group match, Pulisic was drawing criticism for not being more influential in the team’s attack. It’s not rare for the forward to be put under the microscope by critics. He is a constant magnet for judgment on both the club and international levels. While his consistency to produce can be debated, it’s becoming more and more clear that Pulisic has a knack for showing up when it matters most.

Flying toward goal and giving up his body to score the winner against Iran is just the latest moment of heroics he’s displayed in important matches. It was Pulisic’s penalty kick against Mexico in the Nations League final last year that won them that competition. It’s also easy to forget that he scored a crucial goal in the Trinidad & Tobago match in Couva that gave the U.S. a chance to get back in the match the ultimately fell short. When the U.S. need a moment of magic on the big occasion, Pulisic has lived up to the massive and sometimes unreasonable expectations placed onto him.

Comparisons to Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey as the USMNT’s best-ever player have followed Pulisic his whole career. It’s these types of moments where the national team need their star players to make an impact. Donovan had his storybook moments in 2002 and the famous goal against Algeria in 2010. Dempsey is the only American male to score in three different World Cups. This was Pulisic’s first big moment on the biggest stage but it was one that puts him on the level with those two great players with plenty of time to surpass them.

No one knows what the future holds for Christian Pulisic both in the long-term of his career and as it to relates to this World Cup as he’s being evaluated for an injury. But one thing is becoming pretty clear, if there’s a big moment the U.S. needs a star player to step up, he is willing and able to do whatever it takes to make sure that player is him.

USMNT must find way to score if they are to advance in World Cup

Photo by Hector Vivas – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Americans effectively starting knockout rounds a little early with must-win match against Iran.

The United States men’s national team enters its final group stage match at the World Cup against Iran with only a win being good enough to take them through to the Round of 16. This is a familiar situation for the Americans as it was the exact same scenario they faced in 2010 when Landon Donovan scored an iconic last-second goal to secure the victory.

Unlike that famous day, the U.S. will be facing a side that likely only needs a draw — assuming Wales doesn’t get a shock win over England — to earn second place in the group. Commonsense tells us that Iran will likely implement an extremely conservative game plan in hopes of limiting their exposure on defense.

For the USA, this could be bad news for an already sputtering attack with a history of struggling to break down teams who play this style of soccer.

The phrase “parking the bus” in soccer is looked at in a negative connotation as it signal a team’s intent to only focus on not conceding a goal rather than attempting to score one. However, despite it being frowned upon by, it’s quite an effective measure for teams who are able to withstand the pressure. Iran manager Carlos Queiroz is an experienced and well-traveled manager who undoubtedly isn’t afraid to pull out this tactic if he thinks it gives his side the best chance at reaching the knockout stage of a World Cup.

In seven of their last 10 matches in World Cup qualifying, Iran won and kept a clean sheet in the process. It’s clear that they are more than capable of defending in an organized manner. This is something Gregg Berhalter’s team has struggled mightily with in qualifying, especially when matches aren’t played on home soil. During the Concacaf qualifying cycle the U.S. were shutout five times in seven matches away from home. The fact that the Americans must score a goal to earn advancement in the tournament has to be a point of worry.

Despite the numbers and possibility of facing a conservative opponent, USA captain Tyler Adams isn’t expecting Iran to simply go all defense.

“Watching Iran’s last game, I would not expect them to do that, because they went after the game and they were looking for three points. You could tell from the mentality of the group they were attacking, counter-attacking, doing everything they needed to do, fighting in every single duel, tackles. Every single moment of the game looked like it could be their moment to score a goal. So I’m not expecting them to do that. We know that it’s a knockout game. And of course we have to attack. I mean, I’m not the coach of their team, so I’m not exactly sure what they’re going to do, but based off of last game I’m expecting them to come after it.” — Tyler Adams speaking at the USA vs. Iran pre-match press conference

With just one goal in the opening two matches of the World Cup, the onus is on Berhalter to find the right lineup combination to unlock what will surely be a stout Iran defense. One possible option that many outside observers have clamored for is the inclusion of Giovanni Reyna. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder has a knack for breaking down defenses either with his playmaking passing abilities or on the dribble. Reyna has only amassed seven total minutes off the bench despite his immense talent. Could this be his time to finally make the difference from the opening kickoff? If he’s not included and the U.S. continue to struggle to create and score goals, major questions will be asked of Berhalter’s selection process.

No matter how the USMNT sets the lineup to score goals, the pressure is clearly on them to get the job done. They will be facing a team with a history of playing tight, low-scoring games with a mentality that keeping a clean sheet is enough to see them advance. Can they find the right formula to break through the Iran defense and put up a goal or two? If they can’t, their tournament will be over.

Alabama beat North Carolina in the sloppiest 4 OT game imaginable

North Carolina vs. Alabama was a comedy of errors for four overtimes.

North Carolina and Alabama are supposed to be two of the better teams in the country this year in men’s college basketball. Four overtime games are supposed to be thrilling. Neither of those things felt like they were true on Sunday night when the Tar Heels and the Crimson Tide played an error-filled four OT game at the Phil Knight Invitational, better known as the PK 85.

Alabama beat UNC, 103-101, after four overtimes to give the Tide their first win over the top ranked team in the polls since 2004. It was the second straight loss for North Carolina, who were also defeated by unranked Iowa State in this same tournament on Friday. While it wouldn’t really be a surprise to see these two teams matchup in the second or even third weekend of the NCAA tournament come March, the level of play in clutch situations was lacking from both sides before Alabama mercifully took home the win.

Alabama took the lead in the final minute of overtime No. 4 on a beautiful Spain pick-and-roll that led to point guard Jahvon Quinerly hitting big man Charles Bediako for a layup. A weird game got even weirder after that. UNC appeared to take the lead on this floater by Caleb Love, but the refs reviewed their goaltending call and said it was a clean block. Alabama got the ball back because the possession arrow was going their way.

Alabama then proceeded to turn on the ball over on the ensuing inbounds pass:

UNC got the ball back down one with 8.3 seconds left, but the Tar Heels decided to turn it over themselves on the inbounds pass.

UNC fouled, Bama split its free throws, and the Tar Heels missed one last heave to win the game.

The end of the third overtime wasn’t any prettier. In a tie game with three seconds left, Alabama turned it over on the inbounds pass.

UNC was actually able to inbound the ball successfully — a true accomplishment in this game — but their final possession of the third overtime wasn’t much prettier.

Double overtime also ended on a poor offensive possession, when Quinerly was stuffed by Pete Nance on the potential game-winning layup attempt.

People watching were not impressed.

It’s important to remember that even the top teams in college hoops are still a work in progress in November. UNC went to the national title game last year and was preseason No. 1 in every poll. Nate Oats has built a nice program at Alabama, and has a team that should be a factor all season in the SEC. The late game execution will be much better for both of these teams a few months from now.

Alabama is thrilled with the win even without any style points. Carolina feels like they have work to do after consecutive losses. Hubert Davis agrees.

There will be a new No. 1 in the polls next week. The level of play will only go up from here.

World Cup advancement tracker: How each team can qualify for the knockout round

Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Tracking how each team can advance to the knockout round of the World Cup

Group play is winding down at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and as it does, the scenarios for the knockout round are coming into focus.

Here is what needs to happen for teams to advance to the round of 16.

Group A

Here are the current standings in Group A:

Qatar became the first host team eliminated from the knockout round after opening the World Cup with a pair of losses.

Netherlands qualifies with a win or a draw against Qatar, while Ecuador also qualifies for the knockout with a win or a draw in their final match of group play, against Senegal.

Senegal can still advance, but they can only advance with a victory over Ecuador. Any other result, including a draw, will see Senegal eliminated.

Group A concludes play on Tuesday, with Ecuador squaring off with Senegal, and Netherlands taking on Qatar. Both games kickoff at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Group B

Here are the current standings in Group B:

As noted earlier this weekend, the United States can still advance, after a pair of draws, but they must beat Iran on Tuesday. A draw or a loss sees the United States eliminated.

England will advance with a win or a draw against Wales in their final match of group play. There is also a scenario where England could advance with a loss. For example, if they were to lose 1-0 to Wales, and the United States were to beat Iran, both England and Wales would have four points. England, however, would advance as their goal differential would give them the tiebreaker over Wales.

Iran qualifies for the knockout round with a victory over the United States. If that match ends in a draw, then they would need some help to advance. If Iran draws with the United States, and Wales beats England, then England, Iran, and Wales would all have four points, and it would come down to tiebreakers. England, however, would likely advance in this scenario, given their current goal differential of +4.

Iran would also qualify with a draw with the United States, and a Wales loss to England, or a Wales draw with England.

Wales need the most help out of all the teams in Group B. They first must beat England, which would get them to four points. Any other result and Wales are eliminated. Then it would come down to tiebreakers, depending on the result of the match between the United States and Iran. If that match ends in a draw, then Wales would need to have a better goal differential than Iran to qualify. Both teams currently have a goal differential of -2, so a Wales victory combined with a draw between the United States and Iran could be enough to give Wales the edge.

Group B concludes action on Tuesday, with England squaring off with Wales and the United States taking on Iran. Both matches kickoff at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Group C

Here are the current standings in Group C:

Things get a little complicated here in Group C.

Poland advances with a win or a tie against Argentina in their final match of group play. If they lose, they can still advance, depending on the result between Saudi Arabia and Mexico. If Poland loses to Argentina, and the match between Saudi Arabia and Mexico ends in a draw, then both Poland and Saudi Arabia would have four points, and it would come to the goal differential between the two teams. If Poland loses to Argentina, and Mexico wins, then both Poland and Mexico would have four points, and it would come down to the goal differential between the two teams. If, somehow, goal differential could not determine which team advances, the next tiebreaker is goals scored.

Argentina qualifies for the knockout round with a win over Poland, but they would be eliminated with a loss. If the match between Argentina and Poland ends in a draw, then the result of the match between Mexico and Saudi Arabia is a factor. If Saudi Arabia beats Mexico, then Argentina would be eliminated with a draw against Poland. But if that match ends in a draw, or a Mexico win, a tie for Argentina against Poland would see qualification come down to tiebreakers. For example, a draw between Poland and Argentina, followed by a 1-0 win for Mexico, would see Argentina advance with the better goal differential. But if both matches end level, then Argentina would advance over Saudi Arabia, thanks to their better goal differential.

Saudi Arabia qualifies for the knockout round with a win over Mexico, and a loss would see their World Cup end. They can advance with a draw, depending on the outcome of the match between Argentina and Poland. If Saudi Arabia and Mexico finish level, then Saudi Arabia still qualifies if Poland beats Argentina. However, a draw between Saudi Arabia and Mexico, and a draw between Argentina and Poland, would see Saudi Arabia eliminated.

For Mexico, they first must beat Saudi Arabia. A loss or a draw will see Mexico eliminated. If both Mexico and Poland win, then Mexico qualifies. If Mexico wins, and the match between Poland and Argentina ends in a tie, then Mexico’s qualification comes down to goal differential between Mexico and Argentina. If Mexico wins, and Argentina wins, then Mexico’s qualification comes down to goal differential between Mexico and Poland.

With a goal differential of -2 right now, Mexico has some work to do if it comes down to tiebreakers.

Group C action concludes Wednesday, with both matches kicking off at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Group D

Here are the current standings in Group D:

France has qualified for the knockout round thanks to victories over Australia and Denmark.

Australia can still advance to the knockout round with a win over Denmark in their final match of group play. They would be eliminated with a loss. If Australia and Denmark finish level, then Australia advance to the knockout round provided the match between France and Tunisia ends in a draw, or with a French victory. If Australia and Denmark draw, and Tunisia beats France, it would come down to tiebreakers between Australia and Tunisia.

Denmark advances if they beat Australia, and the match between France and Tunisia ends in either a French victory, or a draw. If Denmark wins, and Tunisia wins, both teams would be on four points, and it would come down to tiebreakers. With the first tiebreaker being goal differential — and both teams sitting at -1 right now — the final scores in those matches will be something to watch.

For Tunisia to advance, they must first beat France. Then, they will need some help. Even if they beat France, a win for Australia would see Australia through to the second round, and Tunisia eliminated. If Tunisia wins, and the other match ends in a draw, it would come down to tiebreakers between Tunisia and Australia. If Tunisia wins, and Denmark wins, it would come down to tiebreakers between Tunisia and Denmark.

Group D concludes group play on Wednesday, with both matches kicking off at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Group E

Here are the current standings in Group E after the matches on Sunday:

Costa Rica’s stunning victory over Japan means every team is alive heading into the final day of matches.

Which makes for some complicated scenarios.

For Spain, things are relatively simple. A victory over Japan would see them qualify for the knockout round, with seven points from group play. In addition, a draw with Japan would see them through to the next round as well, as that would give them five points, and Japan would be at four. In this scenario, Costa Rica would win the group with a victory over Germany while Spain would advance as runners-up. Or, if Germany were to win against Costa Rica, or that match ends in a draw, Spain would still win the group with a draw against Japan.

Spain can still advance with a loss, depending on the result between Germany and Costa Rica. Should Spain lose to Japan, a draw between Costa Rica and Germany would have both Spain and Costa Rica on four points. Spain’s huge advantage in goal differential — thank to their 7-0 victory over Costa Rica — would see them through.

Japan advances to the knockout round with a win over Spain, as that would put Japan on six points from group play. Japan can still advance with a draw, depending on the result between Germany and Costa Rica. If Japan and Spain finish level, Japan would advance if the other match ends in a draw. In that scenario, both Japan and Costa Rica would have four points, but Japan’s goal differential would be the difference. If Japan and Spain play to a draw and Germany wins, additional tiebreakers could come into play. For example, say the score between Japan and Spain is 2-2, but Germany beats Costa Rica 1-0. In this scenario, both Japan and Germany would have 4 points, and a goal differential of 0. The next tiebreaker is goals scored, and in this scenario Japan would have 4, while Germany 3.

My head hurts…

Now we can talk about Germany. Germany must defeat Costa Rica on Thursday to have a chance at advancing. That would put them on four points from group play. German would then need Spain to defeat Japan. Spain would win the group, and Germany would finish as runners-up just ahead of Japan and Costa Rica.

Germany can also advance if, as described above, the match between Japan and Spain ends level and Germany has the better goal differential between them and Japan.

For Costa Rica, a win over Germany makes things easy. Anything else, and their current goal differential of -6 makes things complicated. Costa Rica qualifies for the knockout round with a win over Germany, which would put them on six points. A victory coupled with a draw between Spain and Japan would see Costa Rica win the group. A Costa Rica win, coupled with a win from Spain, and Spain wins the group while Costa Rica finishes as runners-up. A Costa Rica win coupled with a win for Japan would see those two nations finish with six points each, and Japan holds the tiebreaker advantage right now with their goal differential.

Costa Rica can still advance with a draw, as that would get them to four points. They would just need Spain to beat Japan. If Costa Rica finishes level with Germany, and Spain and Japan play to a draw, both Costa Rica and Japan would have four points, and Japan would go through on goal differential.

The final matches of group play take place on Thursday, with both matches kicking off at 2:00 p.m. ET. Japan squares off with Spain, while Germany tangles with Costa Rica.

Group F

Here are the current standings in Group F:

Sunday’s matches shook the table in Group F.

Canada’s loss to Croatia saw the Canadians eliminated from the knockout round.

Belgium had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 with a win over Morocco, but Morocco’s stunning victory puts Morocco in good position to advance. Belgium now sit third in Group F, and need a victory over Croatia in their third match of group play to advance. With a win, they would qualify for the knockout round. A draw between Belgium and Croatia could still see Belgium advance, provided the match between Canada and Morocco ends in a Canada win, and Belgium somehow wins the ensuing tiebreaker with Morocco.

Croatia qualifies for the knockout round with a win or a draw against Belgium. They can still advance with a loss to Belgium, if Canada beats Morocco. It would then come down to tiebreakers between Croatia and Morocco for the second spot out of Group F.

Morocco qualifies for the knockout round with a win or a draw against Canada. They can still advance with a loss to Canada, depending on the result between Belgium and Croatia. If Morocco loses to Canada, and Croatia wins against Belgium, Morocco would advance with a loss. If Morocco loses to Canada, and Belgium wins against Croatia, then the runner-up spot would come down to Morocco and Croatia, and tiebreakers.

Group F play concludes on Thursday, with both matches kicking off at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Group G

Here are the current standings in Group G:

Scenarios for Group G will be updated after each team plays its second match of group play. Group G is in action on Monday, with Cameroon taking on Serbia at 5:00 a.m. ET, and Brazil facing off with Switzerland at 11:00 a.m. ET.

Group H

Here are the current standings in Group H:

Portugal qualifies with a win over Uruguay in their second match. Ghana is eliminated with a loss to South Korea in their second match.

Scenarios for Group H will be updated after each team plays its second match of group play. Group H is in action on Monday, with South Korea taking on Ghana at 8:00 a.m. ET, and Portugal tussling with Uruguay at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Kylian Mbappe has already tied one of Pele’s World Cup records

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The Frenchman has seven goals before he’s 24, something only the legendary Pele has previously accomplished.

Kylian Mbappe’s name is already known around the world. His chief achievement so far in his young career was scoring a goal in the 2018 World Cup final as a 19-year-old and lifting the World Cup with France. It’s an insane achievement that would be the peak of many players’ careers. However, Mbappe is just getting started and has already made waves at the ongoing World Cup in Qatar.

The forward, who can play in virtually any position along the front line, has scored three goals in France’s two opening matches against Australia and Denmark. His goal against the Aussies was a post-in header and the third in a comeback route, while his brace against Denmark made the difference between drawing and winning France’s second match of the group stage.

There’s a reason he wears the No. 10 jersey for Les Bleus.

Mbappe is still just 23 years old. The three goals combined with the four he scored in Russia as a teenager means he has already surpassed and equaled many legends of the games who have graced the World Cup. He has more than his fellow Frenchmen Thierry Henry (6) and Zinedine Zidane (5), and his club teammate Neymar (6), who is nearing the top of the all-time scoring list for Brazil. Mbappe was equal with Lionel Messi when Argentina kicked off against Mexico on Saturday, but Messi’s magical goal in the 64th minute against Mexico now moves him back ahead of Mbappe. Now Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are even at eight goals in what is surely their last World Cup.

The fact that Mbappe is already at seven goals before he turns 24 is almost unbelievable. The young Frenchman will realistically play in at least at least two more World Cups in 2026 and 2030, and he’s only 11 goals behind Miraslov Klose, the all-time leading World Cup goalscorer. Klose’s 16 goals across the 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cups may not stand the test of time if Mbappe continues his current pace. Notably, Klose made his World Cup debut at 24, a few months older than Mbappe is now. Only the legendary Pele has as many World Cup goals before turning 24.

While the prospect of climbing those charts is something he will undoubtedly keep his eyes on, Mbappe is hoping to help France become the first repeat champion of the World Cup since Brazil did it in 1958 and 1962. The best way for him to do that is to continue scoring goals for France’s insanely talented and deep squad.

His three goals so far have indeed helped to break the curse of the reigning champions, which plagued Italy, Spain and Germany at the last three World Cups and get Les Bleus out of the group stage and into the knockout stage. France manager Didier Deschamps will surely rotate his squad because they have already qualified to the last 16. His squad is deep and talented enough to where there won’t be a significant dropoff in the starting XI quality. Mbappe might have to wait until the knockout stages to extend his young World Cup goalscoring legacy.

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